As a tornado bore down on Billy and Barb’s Court trailer park west of Athens Monday evening, Devin Kellum and other park residents were yelling for their neighbors to leave their mobile home and get into the park’s storm shelter.
“Almost everybody in the park was already in there,” Kellum, 20, said while standing amid the park’s rubble Tuesday morning. “We were trying to get them in the cellar, but they waved and closed their door.”
Seconds later, at about 4:45 p.m., a rain-wrapped, EF3 tornado roared through Billy and Barb's and Lee-Hi Court trailer park next-door, snapping trees and power poles and slinging homes and their contents across the parks and onto U.S. 72. The half-mile wide storm — which wreaked havoc in the Coxey, Poplar Creek and Blackburn communities of Limestone County — reached wind speeds of up to 165 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
When those in the shelter emerged, they saw the wreckage of their neighbor’s Lot 10 mobile home. It had been upended and slammed into a full-grown tree. In the corner of the home, under a mattress and furnishings, Kellum and his neighbors — Michael Kellum and Richard Gulley — found their neighbors.
“They were all piled up in the corner,” Kellum said. “We could hear someone... just barely.”
Dorothy Jean Hollis, 60, and her son, Carlton "Earl" Hollis, 33, were declared dead at the scene, Coroner Mike West said. Carlton’s wife, Minnie, was treated at Athens-Limestone Hospital and released by Tuesday afternoon, West said. Earl's brother, O'Neal, also survived. The family’s dog, a German Shepherd named Lady, also survived and was found under the wreckage.
West identified the residents at the scene Monday night and released their names Tuesday after notification of relatives.
West said Spry-Williams Funeral Home in Florence is handling funeral arrangements for the Hollises because the family is from the Muscle Shoals area.